The Myth of Donald Trump as an ‘Anti-Intellectual’

dnldtrmp7One of the criticisms frequently hurled at Donald Trump is that he’s an “anti-intellectual.” Liberals count on incautious readers to conflate the term “intellectual” (which refers to a range of professions, which leftists mostly dominate, and not because they have the better arguments) with “intelligent person.” But while there is some overlap, those terms mean quite different things. I care a good deal about this distinction, having edited the website Intellectual Conservative since 2002.

Trump shares very similar views to the other Republican candidates for president against whom he ran, on some 80 percent of issues (abortion, taxes, Obamacare, a strong defense). But he stood out from most of them on a few hot-button issues that are key to the self-conception of contemporary academics and journalists — principally, trade and immigration. On those subjects, he took a stance in support of what he and millions of others see as America’s national interest; that stance was one that’s anathema to most self-conceived “intellectuals” in 2016.

Those candidates who didn’t challenge today’s (quite recent) consensus on those two issues got much milder treatment from the media. For instance, The New York Times described Jeb Bush as “an intellectual in search of new ideas, a serial consulter of outsiders who relishes animated debate and a probing manager who eagerly burrows into the bureaucratic details.”

Now, that description wouldn’t fit Donald Trump. But Trump graduated with high grades from schools as demanding as those Jeb Bush attended. He is a very bright guy who is sloppy sometimes when speaking because he’s not a polished lifelong politician and he enjoysentertaining. It’s part of his charisma. Reasonable people can disagree over Trump’s boorish, flamboyant style. But to claim that he is an anti-intellectual is to grant the left’s self-serving definition of what intellectual life entails. It is clear that Trump has a strong grasp of the issues, although as a relatively newcomer to politics, it could take him several years to acquire the memory to spout details off the top of his head. But any policy wonk invited on a Sunday morning talk show can manage that. Is that what we want in a president?

The Left’s New “Intellectual” College Courses

“Border Crossings, Borderlands: Transnational Feminist Perspectives on Immigration” — University of Washington

“Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism” — Swarthmore College

“Whiteness: The Other Side of Racism” — Mount Holyoke College

“Cyberfeminism” — Union College

“Adultery Novel” —  University of Pennsylvania

“Taking Marx Seriously” —  Amherst College

“The Phallus” — Occidental College

“Sex Change City: Theorizing History in Genderqueer San Francisco” —UC-Berkeley

“Native American Feminisms” —University of Texas at San Antonio

Read the rest of the article at The Stream

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